Thursday, January 3, 2013

Practicing self-control

More on self-control! A reader sent me this video about self-control that is sort of obvious at the beginning but gets interesting near the end. Obvious points are that self-control correlates with "success" in life and that some people have lower self-control than others.

The project is getting people all hooked up to an EEG machine monitoring their brain activity, particularly the region of the brain associated with self-control. Participants get real-time feedback on whether they are using that part of the brain and are asked to utilize it even more. They figure out through trial and error whatever it is that allows them to engage that part of the brain until they can do it on command. Participants in this project show less self-control fatigue than the control group.

Money quote: "Self-control is not a magical, metaphysical phenomenon. Self-control is a tangible, physiological process that we should be able to intervene on."

This is interesting because my main advice to people when they ask me -- how can I improve my self-control? -- is that I am not sure that you can improve it and for me it is largely just a matter of avoiding situations that might tax my self-control. Of course the participants didn't seem to actually improve their base-line level of self-control, just diminished their self-control fatigue, but still it suggests that there may be hope.


  1. "Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control; these three alone lead one to sovereign power."
    Alfred Lord Tennyson

    1. I put this on my dry erase board. It's a nice quote.

  2. Replies
    1. good morning Rich! how are you?

    2. Rich dont be a whore

    3. Hi Rich!!
      Rich is not a whore, you whore.

    4. I am the only whore in the room, please do not try to move in on my action.

    5. :) Good Morning Anon @ 8:30! Iam okay, I didnt sleep much last night so I just woke up from a nap :) How are you today?

      Anon @ 8:57, Why am I a whore? LOL!

      Anon @ 9:00, Thank you, Iam not sure why I was labeled a whore to begin with though, lol. Maybe I am a bit of a whore?

      Anon @ 9:33, LOL, Ill try not to, but if I get an impulse can we share?

      LOLOLOL @ Themes! I remember that song! I once went to Paris and walked past the Moulin Rouge, from what I remember there were alot of prostitutes and alcoholics hanging around that area, but it was a good experience for the most part :)

    6. "high heel shoes, gettin' love from the Jews"


    7. I am fine Rich.

      Did you find out anything about your cat?

  3. Meditation works to increase self-control, along with other things that psychopaths typically lack (e.g. awareness of what you are doing):

    Short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation

    Short-term meditation induces white matter changes in the anterior cingulate

  4. Of course you can improve self control. You may not be able to stop impulsive feelings and sensations, but you can change the behavior that results because of them.

    1. That's smart.

      As we found earlier in the 'Addiction' thread, an addiction has the potential to directly influence behaviour.

      So in this case it's all about forming healthy habits. To find something rewarding in positive behaviour.

      Almost like giving yourself a 'doggy treat' when you do the right thing.

    2. I would like to pose a question. Yesterdays blog discussion( and still ongoing, maybe, if she comes back~) was about intimacy. This really got me thinking about it, as people are honest on here, in a way most people are not, in real life.

      That got me to want your opinion on something. If you have a family member who wants to have a fake relationship that they are great and you are great and that is it. Is it worth it? is it worth even keeping? It is my father.

    3. Monica to a person like that I wouldn't bother with.

      How many times have gone on about the need to find your true self? your authentic self? That the key to happiness is in finding your authentic self? In what way could pretending to be other than you are, living a fake life for this man, contribute to finding your authentic self or ultimately contribute to your happiness?

      I doubt it can and it will only make you resentful of him and yourself in the end. If all he wants is a fake version of you, he clearly isn't interested in the real you or contributing to the completion of your life.

      Blood isn't that important if that blood is toxic and diseased.

    4. Then again, trying to change behaviours would be ignoring the core issue.

    5. Not necessarily Anon. I mean, it certainly can be if you just focus on the behaviors... but ideally you would work on confronting and healing the core issues, and once you've identified those, you can understand where the maladaptive behaviors came from and begin to heal and change as a whole.

    6. Monica, that is sacrificial intimacy/love, isn't it? when you let another person have their belief they are forgiven, even when they are not, it is a gift. It is ok, I think. But it is ok only if you know you are doing a little lie and do not resent. I think it is ok. I am the person with the intimacy issues, Monica.

    7. I think so because with me, because of my problems, it feels very self destructive, not to mention selfish, to tell someone the truth. If I need comfort and they think it is true love, who gives a fuck? i am there. Isn't that good enough?

      I mean , maybe my way to do love and intimacy is the real thing to me? What is the difference whether or not they know the whole truth? I do not even know the whole truth. I am going to live the rest of my life alone waiting for this mysterious intimacy? Fuck that shit. I am entitled to just as much affection as any normal person. Why do I have to tell everything just because i am in a semi - committed relationship with one foot out the door? ..because i cannot trust? I do not cheat , I am very good to them .What more does anyone need?

      Why should i have less, just because I am different? I am very old to not let myself enjoy the fucking teeny bit of pleasure I can grab. Why do i need to tell the truth and have people leave me? it is nothing to ask. if they spend time with me and i do not ask "do you love me do you love me? do you love me? I don't want to know if the fuck they love me. I wouldn't believe them anyway....I do not know what that really is and am happy to just be allowed to get some kind of something. SO, clearly I do not need confirmation. THEY do. Fine. I will give it.

      Zoe said intimacy is when the souls touch barely. I can see this. I even feel it sometimes. I don't know what else there is. That is good enough.

    8. That's just it though, if it was good enough, you wouldn't be quite so miserable. You wouldn't have the self pity and desperation oozing out of every pore.

      Love based on lies and manipulation is worthless. It is hollow and fleeting and leaves both parties unsatisfied, insecure and bitter.
      Intimacy does not have to mean you tell them everything. Everyone should keep some secrets sacred. But you shouldn't just lie, manipulate and try to control the people you love. I did that myself for many many years. I was angry and bitter inside, but I hid it well.

      Then I met someone extraordinary and thought "fuck it, this person deserves better than a mask. Even if it scares them and makes them leave me, it will have been worth it. Because they will have known the real me." It felt so liberating to be more truthful with them.
      Sure I keep a lot to myself and still lie a little, but they knew me better than anyone ever had. And loved me despite the darkness they saw in me.

      You are simply making excuses. Trying to convince yourself that what you have is what makes you happy. You both deserve better than this.

      Otherwise, they will discover themselves what a fraud you are and resent you for deceiving them. The trust will be gone. And you can't just take back what you've taken away.

      Be more truthful, take the mask off piece by piece. As the trust grows, give him more of the real you. You might be pleasantly surprised by how good it will feel to have someone really love you.
      Your souls can not touch at all if there is an impenetrable mask between you.

    9. Anon 2 :15
      Wow That should go in a SW Hall of Fame for Posts with Wisdom. That took my breath away. I take it you were writing to "Intimacy Anon", and not me, with my father.
      That one post I will take as my new direction in life. That is what I love about SW. We are real here, from the person calling someone a "C" to someone like you, who has something of real value to offer. SW is a gold mine. Thank you!

    10. Anon 10:13
      This is what I think from my current state of trying, desperately, to come out of disassociation. Disassociation is real. Platitudes like "Just be yourself" will not work. I am at the point where I will punch someone who gives me a platitude~

      So,what you are saying about not knowing yourself is 100% real. You cannot change it, just as you cannot change a Ford into a Ferrari. It is your lens with which you see the world.

      I think it CAN be changed, but it is a long,long process of using Right Brain Trauma Theory. However, that is not my point, now. My point is that you cannot be "different" from how you are, at this current point in your life. You do NOT know yourself. Therefore, you cannot, by definition, be intimate with someone, emotionally. No one who is disassociated really can, basically.So, the answer is not really about what you should do with him. It is how to deal your disassociation imo

    11. thank you, both Monica and also 2:15.

      I understand. I think i will try not to think about love for a while. -I need to work on my shame so i will feel acceptance.

      Because When you said this: "You wouldn't have the self pity and desperation oozing out of every pore." I felt this shame.

      if i use the wrong word in a sentence with someone well read, i will cringe because I assume they will put me in the category of "not so bright". I have to ask, "did i use the wrong word"? and they may say yes, and then my face gets so hot and i have to fight shame and tears. It's the hiding-of-shame- mask slipping off me. (I see it all the time with other people. ) They tell me i am too hard on myself. I try very hard to try to hide shame but i cannot escape it. Maybe if i can accept myself i can let another accept me and then love will come.

      This is a bit weird because I know that I do loads of things others say they would be ashamed of.

      I have so much shame in every pore that when i come back and see someone responded to me here, it touches me. Thank you.

    12. You made me cry, Intimacy Anon. Thank you for sharing yourself, so openly. I have that horrible shame, too. It is so engulfing and it hurts so badly that you can barely bear it. Thank you for coming here and being intimate with me <3


      Wow i did not know dissociation and shame were related .

    14. Thank you, too, Monica. <3

    15. Did you see your song from Themes, Intimacy Anon? It is on today's blog.

    16. from this :

      interpersonal contact becomes overstimulating or overwhelming,
      or threat perception (real or imagined) increases, dissociation can
      become a mechanism for severing the communication and connection (Lyons-Ruth, 2008). The individual in experiencing certain dissociative episodes (e.g., switching, ego-observing depersonalization, intrusions) and associated phenomena (e.g., trance
      states, intense self-focused absorption) is no longer psychologically connected to the person with whom he or she was relating.
      Such experiences may heighten fear and avoidance of interpersonal

      wow i did not know this.

    17. I just did. It is touching me very deeply.

    18. Thank you, Monica and Intimacy Anon.
      Glad you found something of use in my advice (I am anon 2:15).

  5. Monica, I meant to ask you this: why do you trust your heart more than your head? Do you feel that your head would suggest actions that would conflict with your heart? How about aligning the two?

    As for your question on your dad. You are interpreting the situation wrong. He is offering what he can afford. The guy is simple, he has no more to offer than that. WHy can't you assume the attitude of making him happy before he dies as opposed to trying to figure yourself out? A bit of existentianalism when the person is not hurting you is in order. The only way anyone seems to be hurting you is because of your unrealistic expectations of them. Haven is a bit in the same shoe. BPD is all about unrealistic expectations, give me, give me, give me. How about you learn to give what dad wants and is ready to deal with? He never abused you, did he? You were just mad that he supported the woman he chose to spend the rest of his life with, the woman he wanted to have babies with, the woman he swore to be with in the thick and thin. Why are you competing with this woman, who may be right or wrong, doesn't matter and hurt the guy for his choice of this woman? These are just people. Chill and learn to at least manage a decent course of interaction with your dad, your mom is a lost case but even that is based on listening to your one-sided history. The woman has already accepted her weakness in thsi regard, didn't you tell us that at some point? What more can she offer at this point? Isn't religion all about forgiving? I'm not about religion or firgiving, but you? You preach religion all the time, you preach about taking the high road all the time. EIther take the high road with your heart, or take the practical road with your dad with your brain. These two may die any minute, just like you may, how thoroughly do you realize that? I mean, you are already too old to have mom and dad issues. It's as if you are stuck in a very early age when it comes to these people.

    1. existentialism, lol

    2. Thank you, Sceli! You are right. I appreciate the time and effort it took to write that.

      Alterego I realized the answer to what we were discussing. The fast made me feel as if I was really nurturing myself. I was making all these flavored green teas with strawberry slices and flavored waters with cucumbers, lemons etc. They were so pretty and so delicious. I got afraid that I was loving myself and being "selfish"

  6. I bet you thought you got rid of me :D

    I look at M.E's quote every time I come on the site. I think that all PD's are some form of disassociation. If we can take that away, the PD will go.

    1. Have you checked with a psychiatrist who has studied the mind longer than you have been alive?

    2. In China, i learned with Chinese medecine the oldest doctors are supposed to be the best.

  7. AnonymousJanuary 3, 2013 8:38 PM

    Have you checked with a psychiatrist who has studied the mind longer than you have been alive?

    Do you know how many shrinks are screwed up more than the patients they see? Get real :D

    1. Do you know how many shrinks are screwed up more than the patients they see? Get real :D


  8. What do you do, when you are losing a parent you love? I mean hate. What do you do when you want them to live, so that you can kill them, over and over? But, if they died, you would hold their cold body until someone pried your fingers off and there would be blood where your nails dug in.

  9. Personally in my dealings with psychopaths they have enormous self control. Impulsive people are led by emotion.. We feel we react. Psychos dont feel a thing.. Therefore even at funerals they are composed and unreactive. Psychos take pleasure in having their victims "feel" the emotions they do not have the ability to feel.. They construct ways to make u feel elation and then extreme disappointment. They are punishers and manipulators of those they secretly envy those that feel things in their soul.


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